Changes in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max make the flagship iPhone a great device for videography. These are the best external SSDs for iPhone 15 that you should use to take full advantage of USB-C's speed.
Apple's annual revision of its premium Pro smartphone line has taken place, and 2023's releases are very much an essential purchase for videographers and other creatives that rely on video.
While the new tetraprism camera lens on the rear of the iPhone 15 Pro Max has taken a lot of the attention, the addition of USB-C to the new models is an unexpected hit with consumers. On the Pro models, that USB-C offers 10Gbit throughput, giving it a lot of bandwidth to offload data from the iPhone.
This offloading capability is one of a number of very video-friendly features. Chiefly, it allows users to film the highest quality video possible, and not be constrained by on-board iPhone storage.
On its own, the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max are capable of recording 4K ProRes video footage to its internal memory at up to 30 frames per second. However, you can record to external memory, namely an external drive connected via USB-C, and record the same 4K ProRes video at up to 60 frames per second.
This feature makes the iPhone an extremely useful tool in a videographer's arsenal.
Best SSD for iPhone 15 video — External drive requirements
To record to an external drive and support the 4K 60fps ProRes footage, Apple offers a few minimum requirements.
For a start, the drive needs to use a USB 3 Type-C connection with support for 10Gbps. Since Apple uses USB-C in the newer models, this should be obvious, but remember that not every USB-C cable can operate with high data transfer speeds, so check beforehand.
Connected to that, the external drive must be able to write at speeds of at least 220 megabytes (MB) per second. In cases where a slower external drive is connected, a Slow Recording Speed message may be displayed.
Based on those requirements, there are a lot of drives that theoretically work with the feature. But, that 220 megabytes per second must be sustained speed, not burst speed.
So, it's not a good idea to plug in an SD card reader or rely on cheap USB thumb drives that advertise the speed, because you're going to get choppy recording and dropped frames.
Also, that external drive must be formatted with APFS or exFAT, and must not be password-encrypted.
The Crucial X8 is a 4.3-inch by 2.1-inch external drive that is easily pocketable, while providing a durable anodized aluminum unibody core design. It's a rugged drive that can survive a 7.5-foot drop as well as extreme temperatures, shocks, and vibrations.
Connecting over USB-C and supplied with a cable with a USB-A adapter, the drive operates over USB 3.2 at speeds of up to 1,050MB/s, which is more than enough for an iPhone, and equally useful for taking content off the drive at good speed when it's hooked up to a MacBook Pro.
The Crucial X8 starts from $59.99 on Amazon for a 1TB capacity, rising to 4TB for $199.99.
Sandisk Extreme Portable SSD Gen 2
A favourite among video professionals and creatives, the SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is a thin and stylish portable drive, complete with a carabiner loop to secure it to a keychain or belt loop. It also has drop protection to 6.5 feet, and IP55 water and dust resistance.
Inside is NVMe storage with 1,050MB/s read and 1,000MB/s write speeds. There's even hardware encryption available if you download the optional software tool.
Starting from $59.99 for 500GB on Amazon, there are 1TB, 2TB, and 4TB capacities, with the top model priced at $219.99. It's also available in a variety of colors.
Samsung T7 Shield
A rugged external drive option, the Samsung T7 Shield takes everything from the standard T7 drive, and adds lots of protection. This includes an IP65 dust and water resistance rating, a rubber exterior that can control heat, and the ability to survive a 9.8-foot drop.
The drive itself can work at up to 1,050MB/s for reads and 1,000MB/s for writes, with both Type-C to Type-C and Type-C to Type-A cables in the box too.
Available in three colors and two capacities, the Samsung T7 Shield costs $79.99 for 1TB on Amazon, or $119.99 for 2TB.
Silicon Power PC60M Carabiner Edition
At 3.14 inches long and wide and a mere 11mm thick, the Silicon Power PC60 is very compact and thin external USB-C drive. To make it even easier to carry around, there's a Carabiner Edition that includes a hole in the corner, designed for such an attachment.
Connecting over USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, it has read and write speeds of up to 540MB/s and 500MB/s respectively.
The range starts at 1TB for $42.27 on Amazon, with 2TB and a $148.47 4TB version also available.
PNY Pro Elite V2
Another compact and low-cost option, the PNY Pro Elite V2 is a small and easily stowed away portable storage drive. With a classic appearance and aluminum enclosure it can offer high performance and protection for a tiny size and price.
Read speeds can hit up to 1,100MB/s with writes up to 1,000MB/s, thanks to its USB 3.2 Gen 2x1 interface. The cables let it connect to USB-C and USB-A devices, with backward compatibility also offered for earlier USB standards.
The PNY Pro Elite V2 starts at 500GB for $39.99, with 1TB available for $59.99.
Sabrent Rocket Nano V2
As the name implies, the Sabrent Rocket Nano V2 is very small, while also very fast. Not much bigger than a thumb, it's not a thumbdrive by any measure, despite being so tiny.
Using a USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 interface for high speeds on hardware that supports them, it can handle burst transfers over 1,500MB/s, making it ideal for 8K video recording, if Apple ever enables such a feature in the future. There's also backward compatibility, thanks to a native UFD controller and the inclusion of Type-C to Type-A and Type-C to Type-C cables.
Starting at 1TB for $89.99 on Amazon, the Sabrent Rocket Nano 4 is also available in 2TB and 4TB capacities, priced up to $349.99.
LaCie Mobile SSD
Famed for its orange rugged drives, the LaCie Mobile SSD is a highly compact version that measures 3.09 inches wide, 3.9 inches tall, 9mm thick, and weighing 1.5 ounces. It does so while still offering shock-resistant storage.
The drive can write at up to 1,000MB/s and read at up to 1,050MB/s, with optional AES-256 self-encryption available if you need it.
LaCie prices the 2TB model of its Mobile SSD at $234.43 on Amazon.
Sandisk Professional Pro-G40
If speed is absolutely needed when not connected to an iPhone 15, then the SanDisk Professional Pro-G40 SSD is what you need. While it will operate with 1,050MB/s read and 1,000MB/s write speeds over USB 3.2 Gen 2, it's also capable of 3,000MB/s reads and 2,500MB/s writes when used on a Mac over Thunderbolt.
It also uses a cooling aluminum core to keep temperatures down and speeds up during transfers. That's inside a rugged case with IP68 dust and water resistance, 9.8-foot drop protection, and 4,000 pounds of crush resistance.
The SanDisk Professional Pro-G40 starts from $159.99 on Amazon for 1TB, with 2TB $239.99 and 4TB $399.99 options.
How to make your own SSD for iPhone 15 video recording
Not all external storage accessories will offer what you want. If you have any particular requirements for your external drive, you could always make your own one up, by combining an enclosure with a drive.
On the enclosure side, the Ugreen SSD Enclosure is a tool-free USB-C device that functions over USB 3.2 Gen 2. That means it can work at up to 10Gbps, making it ideal for hooking up to an iPhone.
It is designed to easily accept M.2 NVMe sticks in 2230, 2242, 2262, and 2280 variants, up to a maximum of 4 terabytes.
The Ugreen SSD Enclosure is available on Amazon for $24.99.
An alternative is the Orico M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure, which supports 10Gbps connections over USB-C via USB 3.1 Gen 2. When used with an NVMe SSD, it can handle read and write speeds above 900Mb/s.
The enclosure supports only NVMe M.2 SSDs, not SATA-based versions, and sizes including 2230, 2242, 2260, and 2280, and up to 4TB in capacity.
The Orico M.2 NVMe SSD Enclosure costs $15.19 on Amazon.
You want high speeds for your put-together external drives, so you're best off looking at M.2 NVMe sticks, which have the potential to have speeds beyond 5,000MB/s with a PCI-E 4-based NVMe drive. That's faster than what is possible on USB-C's 10Gbps throughput, and more than what Thunderbolt will deliver
For example, the WD Black SN850X NVMe Internal Gaming SSD is a Gen4 PCIe offering in an M.2 2280 form. Available in capacities from 1TB to 4TB, it offers transfer speeds of up to 7,300MB/s, which is overkill for iPhone video recording, but still a nice to have for future-proofing.
The WD Black SN850X starts from $69.99 for 1TB on Amazon.
If you prioritize cost and capacity over speed, the Samsung 970 EVO Plus SSD may be for you. An NVMe M.2 stick, it offers read and write speeds of 3,500MB/s and 3,300MB/s respectively, which is still fantastic and more than you need for an iPhone 15.
The attractive part is the price. You could get a 2TB stick from Amazon for $96.89.